By Dolores J. Nurss

Volume 1I: Tests of Fire and Blood

Chapter 18




I dreamed this battle, but in writing it up I don’t know how much of this “dream re-entry” really was in the dream, and how much came out of my imagination.  It’s all a dark muddle with flashes of fire.  I must’ve dreamed the twins, for my invention would have inserted mountainfolk lads, not little redheads with kewpie-doll peaks (I dreamed this decades before the kewpie-doll style actually, surprisingly, came into fashion for grown men.)  I’m sure I recall riding a horse beside Kief, although in my dream it seemed to slow, at one point, to the rise and fall of carousel horses.  I especially seem to recall the bodily motions, running over broken pavement, the leaps, the feel of throwing a molotov cocktail, of leaping onto a tank and away again with an explosion behind me, the sickened flight into the forest, and also all of the colliding emotions.  I must have dreamed the burning man, the reason for getting sick in the woods, but my own imagination could have also etched that image in my mind so deeply, for my waking reason would have had no choice but to tell me the consequences of Deirdre’s actions.  I know that I also dreamed the bathing; my body remembers climbing up from the bank in clothes heavy with cold water.

A clue for those struggling to remember dreams: when you can’t recall it clearly in words and images, see if you can remember movements that can fill in the blanks.  For even though sleep paralyzes the body, your muscles believe that they have moved.  Body-memory can override amnesia, lead the blinded, and I couldn’t even type this note without it, so why not use it in dreamwork?

I also dreamed this battle from Malcolm’s viewpoint.  I recall this one more specifically, perhaps because Malcolm perforce moves slowly and deliberately.  Piling wounded kids into a corner of the ruins, my ponderous steps defying the hysteria all around me, only to see the cannon-blast incinerate them out of existence—this particularly stands out in my mind.  I also recall using the cleaver, in a way that in one stroke obliterates any fiction of me as a noncombatant.  And worst of all, I recall my “rescue” at the end, and the damning complicity of my sudden, roaring hunger.

The tanks mowing down the crosses in the cemetery, however, happened in a separate narcoleptic flash-dream.  I think it signaled the brutal, irresistible overwhelming of old, flawed misconceptions about what it means for me to be a Christian, attitudes that had already died yet to which I still clung.  It felt like desecration to let them go.  Yet you cannot have a resurrection without a death.

At first I wrote Deirdre’s point of view and Malcolm’s in two long, separate narratives.  Then I realized that I should interweave them.  When I did, they dovetailed so perfectly, down to word-echoing and image-reflecting, that it stunned me—I hadn’t planned it at all!

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